From the archives: The amplifier designer hall of fame / Tim de Paravachini


Editor-in-chief Neil McCauley in conversation with Howard Popeck:

Only one of the designers we’ve discussed so far, and only superficially at that, were valve-men. Why is that?

Partly ‘cos I’m intolerant of the hassles associated with valves. Bear in mind I’m talking about this from a retail perspective. This isn't a comment ... not an observation about tubes vs ss designs. Anyway I’d entirely forgotten about Mr. Tim de Paravachini of EAR. A truly gifted designer and clearly an entrepreneur. A bit of an oversight on my part. I don’t know him personally. I know what I’ve read, what I’ve been told and what I’ve heard whispered. I’m not interested in any of that! His designs speak for themselves, to me at least.

Can you say more?

I didn't represent EAR; no idea why – too long ago now. Anyway, Subjective Audio – the company I founded – was a very successful ARC dealer in the 1980s but I never, and I emphasise the word never was able to demonstrate the alleged superiority of ARC to an EAR owner. Not when musical credibility was compared at identical sound pressure levels was taken into account. Those vintage EAR power amps won hands down, every time.

You’re talking about the early 1980s, right?

Right. Might be different today. I don’t know. Of course when monster valve power was concerned in the mid 1980s those wonderful EARs couldn’t offer the heft and grunt of the ARC M-300s for example. But when it came to just sitting and listening, the EARs had it all the time. So anyway .... if during conversation with a prospect before a home demo I discovered that they had EAR and they wanted to stick with valves then I looked elsewhere to help them upgrade. There’s always a weak point in a system. Always.


Yup. (long pause) Err . . . nearly always!

To be continued tomorrow

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